His Eminence Γέρων Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon
Ἀντιφώνησις at the Consecration Vespers
The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine
New York, NY
July 3, 2022
Your Eminence, Beloved Brother in the Lord, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America,
Your Eminences and Graces,
Distinguished Members of the Friends of Saint Nicholas,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is an especial honor and a distinct pleasure to return to the United States and to the Saint Nicholas National Shrine, representing the Mother Church of Constantinople and the sacred person of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for the Consecration of this Holy Temple of God.
When His All Holiness came here last year to Open the Doors of Saint Nicholas, on the very day of His Thirtieth Anniversary upon the First Throne of Orthodoxy, I was moved by the manifest devotion and love for this sacred place, that I witnessed in the faces of the Faithful. The rebuilt World Trade Center site – a hallowed ground of memory and sacrifice – will be transformed by the presence of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine, a glowing lamp of faith for all to see.
The Consecration service that will take place tomorrow is the next step in the Saint Nicholas National Shrine’s ministry to New York City and to the American People.
As we chanted earlier in our Vespers:
Ἐγκαίνια τιμᾶσθαι, παλαιὸς νόμος, καὶ καλῶς ἔχων･μᾶλλον δὲ τὰ νέα τιμᾶσθαι δι᾽ Ἐγκαινίων….
Consecration is an old honored custom, and a good one. And it is also proper to honor new churches through consecration.[*]
Indeed, Consecration is an old and venerable tradition, coming to us from the Old Testament, as witnessed in the Prophetic Readings tonight. Even the Great and Wise Solomon wondered aloud whether all his preparations and adornments for the Temple in Jerusalem were enough. He was astonished and said:
But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built! [†]
But we know the answer to his question. God does dwell among us. I am reminded of it every time I hear my own name: “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” As it says in the Gospel of John:
Καὶ ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν….
And the Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us…. [‡]
Therefore, with this Consecration, we affirm that the dwelling place of God is among us and with all of creation. Moreover, through the act of Consecration, we forever stamp this place with marks of holiness, such that it is known as the House of the Lord.
The relic of Saint Nicholas himself, brought here by personally by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew last November for the Θυρανοίξια, will be placed within the Altar Table. The Holy Anointing of the Church, with the same Chrism that comes from Constantinople and anoints our Faithful at their Baptisms, will anoint the walls, the holy vessels, and the icons. By these sacred actions, the Shekinah Glory of the Lord will inhabit this Temple forevermore, intimated every night by its signature glow.
Let us therefore embrace the Consecration as a true Ἐγκαίνια, which literally means “Renewal” and “Restoration.” For the rebuilding of Saint Nicholas has been a true restoration of what was lost on the tragic day of 9/11. And yet, it is more. It is a renewal through the promise of ministry and presence here at the epicenter of world history, at the start of the Third Christian Millennium.
Your Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros:
You are blessed indeed to have had so many co-workers who have given of themselves and their treasure to bring Saint Nicholas to this holy moment. There are so many to thank and to credit – many of whom want no credit, but simply the joy of seeing the fulfillment of this Shrine for the American Nation.
As His All Holiness closed when he was here last November:
Τοῦτον τὸν Οἶκον στερέωσον, Κύριε!
Make firm this House, O Lord!